(Feb. 20, 2014) -- A delegation from the International Trade Center in the UTSA Institute for Economic Development is back from Tunisia after visiting with small business development centers to provide guidance on small business growth. The goal of the trip was to observe the pilot network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) that recently were set up as a result of UTSA's technical assistance, training and guidance.
In June 2013, UTSA completed the SBDC Counselor and Director Certificate Training Program that instructed participants on how to successfully adapt and implement the U.S. SBDC model and methodology. This included more than 10 days of training on how to manage a successful SBDC program, how to provide high-value consulting and training programs for small business clients and that resulted in the creation of a strategic and operational business plan for each center. The training was based on UTSA's considerable experience in operating its own successful SBDC program and in assisting the governments of 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to adopt the model.
Based on the assistance provided by UTSA, Tunisia will launch five pilot SBDCs in the cities of Ariana, Sfax, Kef, Kairouan and Nabeul. SBDCs are known locally in Tunisia as Centre d'Affaires. The new SBDCs and the preceding training are a collaborative effort with the Tunisian Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Commerce with the University of Texas at San Antonio and the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), thanks to the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).
These centers later will be connected with the expanding SBDC Network in the Americas through the online trade platform SBDCGlobal.com, where Tunisian small business clients can find international trade opportunities and training for SBDC staff and client businesses.
SBDCs, established throughout the United States by the federal government in partnership with state governments and universities and colleges, assist entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing and growing their businesses through a free and confidential suite of advising services. Services include, but are not limited to, feasibility studies, business strategies, financial planning, marketing, production and professional networking. The centers support new and existing businesses.
UTSA Associate Vice President of Economic Development Robert McKinley, International Trade Center Director Cliff Paredes and Senior International Business Consultant Monica Alcoz visited the pilot SBDCs in Tunisia.
"We are very excited with impending launch of the pilot Tunisian SBDC network," said Paredes. "Recently Tunisia passed a historical milestone with the passage of their new constitution and now they are ready to focus on rebuilding their economy and in creating new jobs within the small business sector by adopting the SBDC model. A successful Tunisian SBDC network also will create tremendous trade opportunities for Texas small businesses once they are ready to connect with SBDCGlobal.com."
The International Trade Center at UTSA is one of the largest and most successful trade assistance organizations in Texas. It helps companies become globally competitive through technical trade consulting, customized market research and innovative training programs. The center is a specialty SBDC program in the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network.
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